Facial Recognition Company Clearview AI was Hacked


February 27, 2020

Facial recognition technology is pretty groovy stuff. It allows the software to scan a face (via things like a picture or video) and compare that face to a collection of faces in a database. It can be used in a variety of applications (think goofy Snapchat filters) but notably biometric security (think unlocking your phone).

A face is just as unique as a fingerprint. More so maybe, unless you’re a twin. Law enforcement agencies have been employing facial recognition to track suspects through crowded environments via super high-resolution security cameras.

All you really need is a good camera, the right software, and a thorough database. There are some…personal privacy hazards when it comes to facial recognition though. Pitfalls, abuses of power, that sort of thing. Both the FBI and ICE have been caught using the technology unlawfully, requesting access to state Department of Motor Vehicle license databases without a warrant or congressional approval (you can read about the most recent instance of it here if you’d like to learn more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/02/26/ice-has-run-facial-recognition-searches-millions-maryland-drivers/)

So, ultimately, if the good guys are doing bad things with the technology, imagine what the bad guys can do with it? Enter Clearview AI, a company that processes millions, if not billions, of photos of people for customers (private and public) who use facial recognition technology and the fact they were just hacked.

According to a statement obtained by The Daily Beast (see here: https://www.thedailybeast.com/clearview-ai-facial-recognition-company-that-works-with-law-enforcement-says-entire-client-list-was-stolen), the company’s entire client list was stolen by someone with “unauthorized access.”

The statement also says the company’s servers were not breached, that they’ve closed the vulnerability (whatever that actually might mean) and no user search history was obtained.

However, the thief managed to get away with the names and location of each client, as well as the number of users each client has granted access to Clearview’s system. 

Considering the number of breaches local and state municipalities, as well as law enforcement agencies have experienced over the last five years via phishing/ransomware attacks, it might be only a matter of time before the thieves get access to a whole lot more.

We’ll keep following the story as it develops, until then be aware, not only is big brother watching and tracking where you go but maybe some other people are too.

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Carl Keyser is the Content Manager at Integris.

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